ECFA Director participates virtually in the 5th West Asia Conference, with a paper on “The Egyptian Perspective on Egypt-India Bilateral Relations”
ECFA Director Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad participated in the fifth edition of the West Asia Conference, organized by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA), on March 29-30, 2022, on “India’s Approach to West Asia: Trends, Challenges and Possibilities”, with a paper on the “Egyptian Perspective on India – Egypt Bilateral Relations,” as he indicated in this regard that Egypt-India relations are gaining a special importance in light of the evolving international environment, since the two countries share a common political understanding, based on a long history of regular contacts and cooperation on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues. Under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt has realized the importance of building deep-rooted bridges of cooperation with India, as it is one of the key emerging powers and one of the economic poles in the world order that is being currently shaped, and based on a solid ground of interaction between the two countries starting with the era of their struggle against colonialism, passing through the stage of their formulation of non-alignment policies, and reaching the actual stage in which the development agendas of both countries are similar, especially since President El-Sisi took office in 2014 and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same year.
As for the economic aspect, it is obvious that our main approach to relations with India depends on promoting trade and investment opportunities between the two countries, which actually means leaving relations in the hands of the private sector, as it is the main engine of trade and investment issues. During 2022, 8 trade delegations from India visited Egypt, and many Indian companies participated enthusiastically in many exhibitions held in Egypt including Paper, Pharma, Textile and Food Processing Exhibitions. Thanks to technology, many meetings between exporters and importers were held this year virtually. In addition, Indian investments in Egypt currently amount to more than 3.5 billion dollars in multiple sectors including: health, information and communication technology, new and renewable energy, defense, and higher education, with the presence of 52 Indian companies in Egypt. It is also worth noting in this context that the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries reached 6 billion US dollars in 2021 (with a deficit on Egypt’s side of 0.2 billion dollars approximately), with an annual increase of 80% with an increase in Egyptian exports to India by 63% during the same period. India became top in our liquefied natural gas export markets, while India came in seventh place on the list of Egypt’s main export markets during 2021.
On the other hand, bilateral cooperation in the defense sector also received great interest, through holding several meetings between the military leaders of the two countries, as well as the visit of the Indian Naval Ship “INS Tabar” to Alexandria port in September 2021, and conducting joint exercises and operations with the Egyptian Navy. In November 2021, more than 10 Indian companies participated in the Egyptian defense expo “EDEX-2021”, where they displayed their latest defense systems.
As for the cultural level, the International Day of Yoga was celebrated on June 21st, as prominent figures from Egypt practiced yoga on the banks of the Nile, a gesture that echoes the two great civilizations that embraced each other’s culture. On December 2021, the Cairo Film Festival was honored with the presence of the famous Indian singer and composer A.R. Rahman who is considered the pioneer of Sufi music in cinema. On December 6th, at the Baron Palace, the Embassy also celebrated India-Bangladesh Friendship Day with invitees from across the various political and cultural spectra in Egypt as well as the diplomatic community.
In addition to cooperation in the technological field, as the Pan African e-Network project between India and all African countries, which is located at Alexandria University, provides tele-medicine and tele-education. Also, the Indian professorship at Ain Shams University – currently specialized in the field of bioinformatics – has contributed to strengthening and deepening the roots of academic exchange.
Finally, in a world marked by intense strategic competition between the United States of America and other major powers, it is important to strengthen Egypt-India political cooperation, and promote economic cooperation in new areas such as public health, pharmaceutical industries, manufacturing in general, advanced technology, energy, textile industries, and technical cooperation. The rich partnership existing between the two countries provides a broad framework for new ties and further cooperation in various fields. Over the years, the two countries have demonstrated strong political will to expand cooperation frameworks in various fields on the basis of common interests and mutual benefits.